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Mizzou Links, 1-15-14: Backups show potential, and E.J. Gaines is good

Torren Jones and Keanau Post pass their first real audition, Gary Pinkel beat the heat, and E.J. Gaines is a top corner prospect.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jones, Haith, and 1 day to Vandy Mizzou Basketball Faces Vanderbilt On Thursday
The Trib: Missouri's backups will learn on the job

Several weeks ago, Haith lamented that Jones and Post didn't get much playing time while he was serving his five-game NCAA-mandated suspension and associate head coach Tim Fuller was in charge. With the competition picking up — five of Haith's first seven games were against high-major opponents — he wasn't sure the timing was right to let them find their footing.

Haith is no longer concerned about waiting for the perfect time.

"I just think we need to," Haith said. "As you get through the season, you look at your team, and I think it's what's best for our team is that those guys get court time and increase our depth a little bit.

"I think those guys have also improved at practice. I've seen progress in what they're doing out here on the court and having an understanding of what we want them to do. I think all those things come into play in making that decision."

KC Star: Missouri coach Frank Haith opens up about his late-game philosophy
PowerMizzou: Jones makes the most of his chance

Junior college transfer Keanau Post and freshman Torren Jones saw their most extensive action of the season and responded with a combined 17 rebounds in 27 minutes at Auburn.

"I feel like anytime you can get guys in there to contribute like they did, that's always gonna be a plus," Jabari Brown said. "Coach is gonna have to put them in and they're gonna have to contribute."

"I think Keanau and I think Torren both have ability to be factors in the lane," Frank Haith said. "I was real pleased with Keanau's minutes. I know it doesn't look great, but he hasn't played a lot. His whole thing is confidence. His size can be a factor, but he moves well too."

Team Speed Kills: SEC Basketball Roundup: Mizzou Falls, A&M Surprises, Mann Impresses

2. Hey, let's relive 2013 some more!

Post-Dispatch: Pinkel, Mizzou beat the heat in 2013

Minutes later, co-captain L’Damian Washington relived the meeting Pinkel had with his seniors last January, the conversation that established the theme of the 2013 season.

"He said, ‘You guys got the biggest responsibility of any senior group that’s come through Mizzou,’" the wide receiver said. "‘You’ve got to get Mizzou back on the winning track.’

"We all were on the hot seat. There was no secret. A lot of people thought Coach Pinkel was on the hot seat, our coaches, our players (with) Mizzou going to the SEC. I think this year, in our second year, we answered the call. SEC East champs the second year, 12 wins. That’s huge."

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou football in 2013: 5 defining plays
Post-Dispatch: Dave Matter's Mizzou football awards
Post-Dispatch: Five Mizzou football questions for 2014

3. EJ love

Football Educator: 2014 NFL Draft: East-West Shrine Game Prospects Preview

E.J. Gaines, CB Missouri:

Gaines had a break out senior year and is another player that should be in the Senior Bowl in my opinion. He was an underrated prospect coming into his final season with the Tigers that I noted to watch this fall. This defensive back made a big name for himself in the highly anticipated matchup versus Mike Evans of Texas A&M. He shut down the Aggies big play receiver holding him to four catches for eight yards. Gaines is instinctive while playing with great awareness and quickness. He stays low in his back pedal while showing fluid hips. His ability to turn smoothly while keeping stride with receivers is excellent. Gaines also has a nice burst of speed and uses his technique well to cover receivers in man coverage. He fights through blocks and comes up strong in run support. Gaines is a little undersized at 5-foot-10, 193-pounds, which is a concern for scouts. But he is a talented cornerback that is a top 5 rated cornerback prospect for the 2014 draft.

4. Who's signing up? Mizzou Golf Camps Registration Open